Thursday, August 16, 2018

Athletes Foot

Athletes foot, or tinea pedis, is the most common skin condition seen in a podiatry office.  Although very common, tinea pedis can be easily misdiagnosed.  This is because tinea pedis can present in a number of different ways.
The most common way athletes foot presents is between the toes, where the skin becomes moist, red or white, irritated, and often itchy.  Another presentation of athletes foot is the chronic type, where the skin becomes dry, scaly and cracked on the bottom of the foot.  Tinea pedis can also be acute or inflammatory, where the skin becomes rough and red.  Fluid filled vesicles also appear.  
All the types of fungus, ( there are at least three ) thrive in moist, dark warm areas.  This type of environment along with a genetic predisposition, enables the fungus to infect the skin.  This is the reason that there is such a high rate of recurrence with tinea pedis.

In preventing the fungus infection, the environment that allows the fungus to flourish must be eliminated.  The feet must be kept clean and dry, and allowed to "air out".  Shoes should also be allowed to air out for a least 24 hours.  Breathable cotton socks are preferable to nylon.  For those who suffer from excessive perspiration, medicated powder can be effective in controlling moisture.
For the majority of cases, topical antifungal medications are sufficient.  The topical medications are typically used for at least 2-3 weeks.  For those conditions unresolved by topical medications, a course of oral medication may be necessary.
Fungus infections of the feet are more than a cosmetic problem.  Untreated tinea pedis can spread to the toenails, or other parts of the body.  Fungus infections of the skin can lead to bacterial infections, cellulitis and wounds in diabetics.
If you think you have athletes foot, seek the proper medical attention.

Referenced from Podiatry Today, July 2018, Myron Bodman,DPM